Home » ISO 14001:2004 EMS » ISO 14001-Clause 4.2

ISO 14001-Clause 4.2

ISO 14001-Clause 4.2 Environmental policy

ISO 14001 Requirements

Top management shall define the organization’s environmental policy and ensure that, within the defined scope of its environmental management system, it

  1. is appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of its activities, products and services,
  2. includes a commitment to continual improvement and prevention of pollution,
  3. includes a commitment to comply with applicable legal requirements and with other requirements to which the organization subscribes which relate to its environmental aspects,
  4. provides the framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives and targets,
  5. is documented, implemented and maintained,
  6. is communicated to all persons working for or on behalf of the organization, and
  7. is available to the public


ISO 14001-Clause 4.2 is about Environmental policy. An environmental policy is your management’s declaration of commitment to the environment. The policy should serve as the foundation for your EMS and provide a unifying vision of environmental concern by the entire organization. Your policy should be more than just flowery prose. Since it serves as the framework for setting  environmental objectives and targets, the policy should be brought to life in your plans and deeds. Everyone in the organization should understand the environmental policy and what is expected of them in order to achieve the organization’s objectives and targets. Your policy should contain three key commitments i.e Continual Improvement, Pollution prevention and Compliance  with relevant laws and regulations.

Your policy should be related to your products and services, as well as supporting activities. Consider the results of your preliminary review before finalizing the policy. Also, make sure the policy reflects the environmental aspects of your products, services and activities. Your policy should contain commitment to continual improvement. This doesn’t mean that you must improve in all areas at once, but that the policy should drive your overall efforts to continually improve your organization’s environmental management.Keep your policy simple and understandable. Ask yourself: What are we trying to achieve? How can I best communicate this to the rest of the organization? Will we do what we said we would? Keep in mind that your policy should be explicit  enough to be  auditable.The policy can be a stand-alone document or it can be integrated with your health & safety, quality, or other organizational policies. Consider who should be involved in developing the policy and the best process for writing it. Input from a range of people in your organization should increase commitment and ownership. Make sure that your employees understand the policy. Options for communicating your policy internally include posting it around the site (e.g., in the lunch room), paycheck stuffers, incorporating the policy into training classes and materials, and references to the policy at staff or all-hands meetings. Test awareness from time to time by asking employees what the policy means to them.

The policy should also be communicated externally. Options for external communication include business cards, newspaper advertisements and annual reports, among other options. You can choose to communicate the policy proactively or in response to external requests. The intention of this requirement of the Standard was that by making the organization’s environmental policy available to the public, the organization was very clearly setting highly visible environmental objectives. By this, the organization demonstrated commitment and accountability which could be verified, examined, and even criticized, if it failed to deliver the promises made. Thus, the policy was intended to be the main ‘driver’ of the environmental management system and all other elements of the system would follow on naturally from it. The policy should to be ‘within the context of the environmental policy of any broader corporate body’, so that the policy of the organization will not be in conflict with higher-level corporate strategy so that coherence of policy could be seen to flow throughout the wider organization. This was to ensure that no policies of higher-level management would prevent the policies of lower-level management being effectively carried out, for example, at the site level. The environmental policy must also be reviewed by top management. This was to ensure that the ultimate responsibility for, and commitment to, an EMS belongs to the highest level of management within the organization. Because the environmental policy documentation is so fundamental, the meaning of the words on it must be clear and very relevant to the organization’s activities.

The policy should, therefore, be relevant to the significant impacts of the organization and should focus on them. For instance, a plastics processing company should not focus its policy on saving raw materials by recycling polystyrene drinking cups in the canteen yet ignore highly significant waste from the manufacturing processes.The environmental policy must demonstrate ‘commitment to the prevention of pollution’ (Clause 4.2(b)) and ‘commitment to comply with relevant environmental legislation’ (Clause 4.2(c)). Although objectives and targets will be audited by means of achievement against measurable targets, the auditor, for example, needs to gauge commitment and in many ways this can only be verified by interviews with top and senior management rather than by reviewing evidence contained in files or in records. The interviews will test whether the EMS is seen as an integral part of the business management functions and whether senior management actually mirrors their actions. The auditor will rely upon his experience and intuition to gauge this somewhat intangible label of commitment, and so the company should ensure that top management can indeed present their case.

Considerations for Writing an Environmental Policy

  • The company’s mission and core values
  • Support for continual improvement
  • Pollution prevention
  • Compliance with relevant laws and regulations
  • Relevance to the organization’s activities, products and services
  • Reflection of objectives and targets

Points to Address in an Environmental Policy

  • Minimization of negative environmental impacts in production, use and disposal
  • Education and training of the workforce
  • Reduction of waste and consumption levels of resources (materials, fuel and energy)
  • Commitment to recovery and recycling
  • Encouragement of support of the EMS by suppliers and contractors
  • Involvement of all employees and local community

Audit Checklist:

  1. Has top management defined the organisation’s environmental policy?
  2. Is the policy consistent with the scope of the environmental management system?
  3. Is the policy appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of your activities, products or services?
  4. What commitment does your policy make to continual improvement?
  5. What commitment does your policy make to the prevention of pollution?
  6. How does the policy include a commitment to comply with relevant environmental legislation and regulations, and with other requirements to which you subscribe that relate to your environmental aspects (eg Industry guidelines)?
  7. Does the policy provide the framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives and targets?
  8. How is the policy documented, implemented and maintained and communicated to all persons?
  9. How is the policy available to the public?

Sample Environmental Policies:

Semtech Corporation’s Environmental Policy

“Semtech is committed to producing environmentally sustainable product, reducing environmental impacts and conserving resources. We have incorporated sound environmental practices in our processes from design all the way through production and distribution by:

  • using sustainable products
  • being efficient in energy usage and reduce consumption of paper,energy, water and fuel
  • minimizing waste and increasing recycling
  • keeping suppliers environmentally accountable
  • helping customers minimize their carbon footprint by providing “green” enabling technology
  • understanding and complying with customer, legal and other requirements.”

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited’s (BHEL) Environmental Policy


  • Compliance with applicable Environmental Legislation / Regulations.
  • Continual improvement in Environmental Management System to protect our natural environment and control pollution.
  • Promotion of activities for conservation of resources by Environmental Management.
  • Enhancement of Environmental awareness amongst our employees, customers and suppliers.
  • Assist and co-operate with concerned Government agencies / Regulatory bodies engaged in Environmental activities, offering BHEL’s capabilities in this field.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Environmental Quality Policy Statement

PG&E is committed to a clean, healthy environment. We will provide our customers with safe, reliable, and responsive utility service in an environmentally sensitive and responsible  manner. We believe that sound environmental policy contributes to our competitive strength and benefits our customers, shareholders, and employees by contributing to the overall well-being and economic health of the communities we serve. We will:

  • Comply fully with the letter and spirit of environmental laws and regulations, and strive to  secure fundamental reforms that will improve their environmental effectiveness and reduce the cost of compliance.
  • Consider environmental factors and the full acquisition, use, and disposal costs when making  planning, purchasing, and operating decisions.
  • Work continuously to improve the effectiveness of our environmental management.
  • Provide appropriate environmental training and educate employees to be environmentally responsible  on the job and at home.
  • Monitor our environmental performance regularly through rigorous evaluations.
  • Seek to prevent pollution before it is produced, reduce the amount of waste at our facilities and support pollution prevention by our customers and suppliers.
  • Manage land, water, wildlife, and timber resources in an environmentally sensitive manner.
  • Use energy efficiently throughout our operations, and support the efficient use of gas and electricity by our  customers and suppliers.
  • Re-use and recycle whenever possible.
  • Use environmentally preferred materials.
  • Clean up residual pollution from past operations in a cost-effective manner.
  • Work cooperatively with others to further common environmental objectives.
  • Communicate and reinforce this policy throughout the company.

Milan Screw Products Inc’s Corporate Environmental Policy

Milan Screw Products Inc. is committed to continual improvement of its Environmental Management System (EMS), which includes waste minimization, the prevention of pollution, and compliance with all relevant federal, state, and local environmental legislation and regulations. The company will meet or exceed the environmental requirements of other organizations to which Milan Screw Products subscribes. To sustain this commitment, the requirements of the Environmental Management System described in this Manual applies to all activities, equipment, material and employees.

The company’s Environmental Compliance Officer is the company’s EMS Management Representative who has the responsibility and authority to plan, enforce, and maintain the company’s Environmental Management System. This responsibility also includes stoppage of activities that deviate from the requirements of this Manual. The Environmental Compliance Officer, with the assistance of the Environmental Task Group, will propose annual targets and objectives to be approved by the Management Review Board.

The EMS Management Representative may delegate some of this authority downward through the organization in order to effectively implement the system.

Megatech’s Environmental  Health & Safety Policy

Megatech is in the business of Designing and manufacturing of Offline and online electrical sources as per customer requirements.

Our EH&S policy is to be a responsible corporate in protecting the environment. We are committed to comply with applicable legal, statutory & other requirements related to environmental aspects & to strive for continual improvement of integrated management system by minimizing / preventing the creation of wastes & pollutants as well as accidents. We therefore, manage our processes, materials, and people to reduce the adverse environmental and accident impacts associated with our activities. We shall strive to achieve this by the active participation of a competent & motivated work force

Megatech pledges to implement & operate Integrated Management system in line with ISO 14001:2004 & ISO 18001:2007 to enhance performance with the following objectives.

  • Minimize / prevent the depletion of natural resources.
  • Improve Work place environment.
  • Achieve Cost effectiveness through environmental management system.
  • Minimise / prevent pollution.
  • Minimize / prevent Accidents.

This policy is communicated to all parties interested in the performance of our environmental management system.The policy is made available to the public by posting at the entrance and providing copies to the  public upon request.

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